Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Our Ah-Ha Moment

Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8 NKJV)

We need Hope and Joy

We all need something that motivates us to get up in the morning.  We need to anticipate something with joy.  We need what the Bible calls hope.  There is an epidemic of depression in our society today because many people feel that life has no value, no point, and that the routine of raising children, and making a living is not very satisfying since at the end of it all there is a grave waiting.  The unsaved really have “no hope” according to the Bible.  That is truly depressing.  However, for the Christian there is something to anticipate with joy.

The Appearing of the Lord

The appearing of the Lord seems to involve different prophetic events.  He obviously appeared the first time as a baby in Bethlehem’s manger.  But that appearing ended in a crucifixion.  He is also going to appear when He judges the world that has rejected Him as He cleanses the world of unbelievers so He can set up a righteous kingdom.  But before He does that, He is going to save every truly born-again Christian from the wrath that is going to be poured out on this Christ-rejecting world.  1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 speaks of the catching away of the church.  This glorious appearing has been the blessed hope every truly born-again Christian since Paul explained the rapture (or catching away) to the Thessalonians (See also Titus 2:13).  The Lord does not tell us when that catching away is going to occur, but I see no Scriptural reason why it couldn’t occur today.  Prophecy or the signs of the times are for the Jews who seek after signs in order to believe God has spoken.  We who are saved now need no signs.  We should always be ready and watching for the Lord’s return.

But when Paul talks about the appearing of the Lord in our passage, is he referring to the rapture of the church or to the revelation of the Lord to set up His kingdom or perhaps to the judgment seat of Christ where believers are judged for their faithfulness to the Lord?  Most preachers that I listen to seem to think this has to do with the judgment seat of Christ.  However, I would like to suggest that if it does, then the judgment seat of Christ takes place personally and immediately upon our death.

The Key to the Book

Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:6, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.”  He knows that his execution is near, and I believe that is the day that is on his mind.  He has finished his race according to the next verse.  Normally, crowns are handed out when the race is finished.  And I believe that Paul is saying that when He is executed, the Lord will appear to Him.  He had an epiphany on the Damascus Road, and he expects another one.  An epiphany is an “ah-ha” moment.  It is often expressed as a bright light or outshining of glory. Paul has mentioned “that day” three times in this book and while most think that he is talking about the judgment seat of Christ, I think he is talking about the day of his coming execution.  Read that most encouraging passage in 2 Timothy 1:12, where Paul says he knows Who he has believed.  Read about Onesiphorus who needs mercy in that day (2 Timothy 1:18).  Onesiphorus will not need mercy after he dies, the Lord has taken care of that at the cross.  But likely in befriending Paul, he too has been slated for martyrdom.  He needs to be spared from the lion as Paul was. He needs mercy in how he dies not after he dies.  And now Paul says, that the Lord is going to appear to Him at that day and give Him a crown a righteousness.  Then he goes on to say that that appearing, and crown will be given to everyone that has loved (shown charity) to His appearing.  This epiphany occurs at death.

I Believe

I believe that there just might be a bright light that accompanies the death of a believer.  And even though we might miss out on the rapture when He will appear only to believers, we still will not miss out on His appearing.  I believe the Lord will meet us when we cross over from time to eternity.  And I am certainly glad that I don’t need to worry about His appearing as an angry lamb when He appears to a Christ-rejecting word.  We need to “occupy til He comes” and we certainly do not want to hasten the day of our deaths.  But we can be encouraged to know that at death we are going to see the beauty and glorious majesty of the One who loved us and gave Himself for us.

I had an “ah-ha” moment when I first realized that Christ had already died to save me.  I didn’t need to wait for God to save me (which I was doing) because the work that saved was finished.  I had a new personal understanding of the promise that Christ had died for sinners and therefore for me.  But that is nothing like the “ah-ha” moment that is coming.  Whether by rapture or by death, I am expecting an epiphany.

Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of August 11, 2019

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